Great new video podcast on the Infinite Thinking Machine from MacWorld 2007— including reflections from many (including yours truly) on what it would mean for learning if every student had an iPhone!

My comment for the podcast that wasn’t included was that 1:1 learning with small, powerful devices like the iPhone IS and WILL BE the future of learning in our schools. It’s just a matter of time before the prices go down further and the power gets unbelievably powerful.

But as Marco challenged us at MACE today, what are we going to DO with these devices? The same things we’ve always been doing in schools? Reading pages 1-10 and answering questions 1-4? Let’s hope not. We need to measure learning on our classrooms more by the QUESTIONS students ask and the CONVERSATIONS our lessons inspire rather than the ANSWERS students can spew out in a 45 minute class period. We can and probably should still take multiple-choice tests too– I’m not advocating an end to read-only learning. But we also need read-write learning. Remixed education. And more choices about how we consume information: In audio, visual, and video formats. That’s the new read-write.

An iPhone for every student? Yes, it’s coming. Next school year in your school district? Probably not. But the devices are on the way. We’re already swimming in devices, but it’s up to educators and educational leaders to lead the way in ASKING DIFFERENT QUESTIONS and seeking to cultivate individual RELATIONSHIPS with each student. On the basis of those relationships, amazing things can be learned and shared. We can create knowledge products that, as Marco says, “have wings” and become amplifiers for our ideas far more powerful than we ever dreamed possible.

The line between imagination and reality, creativity and and real life, has become closer than ever. Dream big dreams. Provoke imaginations and invite curiosity in your classroom. Be the change. The kids are ready.

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5 Responses to An iPhone for every student?!

  1. Wes,
    I think you’re somewhat missing the point here to some extent. Learning with small and wireless mobile devices is the future of learning, but not necessarily in schools. Just like School 2.0 is an oxymoron (as Stephen Downes has argued and I agree with him), learning with mobile devices in a formal educational setting that puts restrictions on space and time is getting to be increasingly difficult, and I know this from experience.

    True learning with wireless mobile devices happens when learners have access to the devices anywhere and anytime, and I don’t see this in your post here. I think it’s way beyond time that we start to seriously rethink how we teach and learn in formal educational settings. The educational system as it exists today is NOT preparing kids for their future that lies ahead. I don’t really think it matters how much we infuse technology in current schools. If we don’t fundamentally change education it is not going to matter that much. Besides, we know from research that most learning happens OUTSIDE of formal environments.

    Your comment about “cultivating individual relationships” is a good example. I don’t care what tools and supports you have at your disposal, if you are a teacher with 150 students you are not going to cultivate these relationships with each and every one of them to the extent that you should. Sad but true.

  2. Raj says:

    I agree with Mark, I think that these devices, if they are trapped in the mold of traditional schooling, are doomed to fail. They are also doomed if there is no way to bring down the price of wireless broadband. The iPhone is a data hungry device, and unless you have good wifi coverage, they will be expensive to run.

    If there are steps made towards a more ubiquitous and inexpensive wireless network, these devices won’t be coming into schools any time soon.

    If you think about it, there should be a bigger push for smartphones/berrys in general in schools already, but admins are cracking down on these devices with a blind eye to what these devices could really be used for.

    If they are going to enter the schools, I’m thinking it’s going to be through higher ed and then trickle down from there.

  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    It is interesting to see what is evolving in many areas as “these devices” are already coming into schools because the kids are bringing them themselves. I totally agree that pedagogy has to change. We need to reinvent education and move to school 2.0, based on the realities and needs of the information age rather than the context of industrialization on which schools were founded. Teachers make the difference, not technology– that is one of my core messages. But any good teacher is going to try and utilize available resources to help his/her students learn. Technology can be a tremendous lever for learning, but not just as a transmission mode: it can allow students to publish, engage with the world, and stand on a stage larger than any of us can probably imagine.

    These are good thoughts, and I think I agree with much of what you both have said. Note I’m not standing up anywhere and saying that every teacher needs an electronic whiteboard, because that technology by itself will transform learning. It won’t. I’ve read Larry Cuban’s book “Oversold and Underused” and experienced the reality of what he documents there in tons of classrooms.

    We have to start asking kids different questions, and getting them to ask the questions. But access to the digital world of technology is a key ingredient. The digital divide is real, and schools can’t stand by and just say “the kids will learn that digital stuff on their own.” They will learn, but what they learn can and should also be informed by many of the things adults have. I don’t think there is inherent wisdom in any digital device, nor is there a passion for learning or a particular topic latent in the silicon. Those things live in the hearts and minds of great teachers, so what we need more than anything are passionate teachers who connect with their students.

    I agree you can’t teach that way when you have 150 students. But you can reach them in different ways. This blog is an example. Learning is and will continue to change. Schools need to also. I think digital devices that kids have access to 24/7 are and can play a constructive role in that change process.

  4. […] This came to me this morning after reading a few articles. First, the Technology Review article on using eye tracking to replace the mouse, the second was Wes Freyer’s iPhone post and the last was TechLearning’s article on kids with special needs being the forgotten part of the divide. It was also inspired by my nephew’s first words in both baby sign and “talk” (da-da). […]

  5. Here’s what Will Richardson just posted about the topic of education v. learning, sort of as a follow-up to what Stephen Downes has been saying:

    I’ll post more on this later myself, but I think Stephen and Will’s posts as well as the associated comments are important ones in that this is the direction I think we need to be going in. Just as Judy Breck has said in her 109 Ideas for Virtual Learning, education is a system that is broken to the point where it is not worth it to try to fix it. We need to start looking at alternatives. Schooling/learning/education should not be a place, but a process (to put it in David Thornburg’s words….

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